We've reached the mid-way point in the 2014 season, and as it's the bye week, we are taking a look at how the New York Giants are doing.
Ed has already done his signature "Kudos & Wet Willies" style reviews of the Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. However, considering how much the 2014 draft class is contributing to the team, I want to take a closer look at the rookies. And since they have already been given their Kudos or Wet Willies, I'm going to take them back to school and give them a report card.
Round 1: Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants waited, and waited, and then had to wait some more to finally take their new toy out of the wrapping, and see what they got. Odell Beckham, OBJ, ODB... Call him what you will, but he has proven to be worth every second of the wait. With one play he changed the dynamic of the Giants passing offense, and has already scored three touchdowns in only 10 receptions.
Only playing in a small fraction of the Giants season so far, it wouldn't be unfair to give him an incomplete. However, in his short time, Beckham has already accounted for more than 20 percent of Eli's touchdowns.
Mid-Season Grade: A
Round 2: Weston Richburg
When they saw him in the Senior Bowl, the Giants scouts felt that Weston Richburg could be a Day 1 starter for them (Marc Ross on Finding Giants). And that's exactly what happened. Thanks to injuries to both Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Mosley, Richburg was thrust into the starting line-up, and has been a starter ever since.
Richburg's rookie campaign has been a mixed one. By and large, he has looked exactly like what he is: a talented rookie playing out of position. At times he has looked mentally overwhelmed, at times he has looked physically overmatched, but then there are other times when shows the talent that made him a high draft pick.
Round 3: Jay Bromley
In the third round the Giants shocked fans -- and the player himself -- by selecting Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley. Despite being being an active and productive player at Syracuse, Bromley was a bit of a developmental pick. He came into the league, like many rookie defensive linemen, having to improve his technique, functional strength, and ability to maintain leverage.
That is why he has likely been a big factor in why he has barely seen the field his rookie season. However, with an injury to Cullen Jenkins, and the defensive tackles in front of him struggling, Bromley could see meaningful snaps after the bye week.
Round 4: Andre Williams
Another thing we found out in the finale of the NFL Network special "Finding Giants", some of the Giants' scouts had him rated as highly as a first- rounder, and they almost selected him in the third round. They almost traded up in the fourth round to get him. However, their patience was rewarded as they were able to get the Heisman runner-up in the fourth round.
Since the season started, Williams was the second running back, giving Rashad Jennings a rest when need be, and pounding defenses with his bruising running style every chance he got. Williams moved into the starting role when Jennings sprained his MCL against the Falcons. His pass blocking has improved, but his pass catching and outside running are still definite holes in his game. In fact, the running game as a whole has declined since the loss of Jennings, but blame for that lays, at least partially, at the feet of a suddenly struggling offensive line.
Round 5: Nat Berhe
Another team captain, Nat Berhe played the "Aztec" safety/linebacker hybrid role in San Diego State's defense. While not an exceptional athlete (by NFL standards), Berhe is a "Football Player".
Through the first half of the season he has largely been a special teams player, and been solid in that role (though the ST's themselves have been far from inspiring). He has put forth some quality reps on defense when given the chance, so there is the possibility that he could rise ahead of Stevie Brown and Quentin Demps in the depth chart.
Round 5 (Compensatory): Devon Kennard
Devon Kennard was the other player the Giants were considering when they took Nat Berhe in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft. Once again their patience was rewarded when Kennard fell to their compensatory pick in that round.
Kennard created a lot of excitement throughout the off and pre-season with fast, instinctive play, and routinely delivering big hits -- when those were finally allowed. When Jon Beason went down with a toe injury, Kennard stepped into the role of SAM linebacker, and played well throughout the pre-season. During the regular season he was slowed by a hamstring injury, but flashed some in his week 7 return.
Grade: Incomplete (trending upward, though)
Round 6: Bennett Jackson
Bennett Jackson was the Giants' final selection of the 2014 NFL draft. Jackson showed promise as a backup defensive back and special teamer in pre-season, but ultimately failed to crack a (then) deep secondary to make the team. He was signed to the practice squad and later placed on the injured reserve.
Headlined by the electric Odell Beckham, this rookie class is making a much bigger contribution than previous ones. If I were to grade them as a class, at this point I would give them a "B".
None of the rookies are truly playing poorly, however a lack of playing time for several of them -- due to injuries